Here’s the tl;dr version: schools want to track their students so they know where they are all the time. And not because there’s been some sort of major rash of abductions; simply to fight truancy. And in some cases, to make money.
If you’ve been reading this blog, you probably have guessed that I think this is dumb.
You may say, “Hey, some parents are hard-working individuals who have to make it to work and just don’t have time to watch their kids walk in the door, or get on the bus, or what have you.” And that’s a valid response, because as a parent, that is a choice that you make. If you are too busy to ensure that your kids to to school, and to check up on them afterwards, you know, get involved in their life enough to see whether they’re doing their homework… that is your choice. You can choose to care more about your work than about your kids’ education. It is your call.
The same goes for school districts that allow their classes to become so overloaded that teachers can’t reasonably take attendance. When you’re on the school board or other funding agency, that’s your call.
Make the decision, but don’t pretend you’re not making it.
These new methods are attempts at a technical solution to a non-technical problem. Students who want to skip school will see it as a technical problem, and will apply a technical solution. It’ll be easy. Your uniform’s bugged? Hit the bathroom and change into the clothes you stashed in your backpack. Your ID card is bugged? Get a friend to carry it through the day. Set up a rotation – you skip on odd days, they skip on even days. Hell, give ten cards to one kid.
By trying a technical solution to a social problem, we make these things into nothing more than a game to beat (or cheat), a system to be beaten. It’ll be easy.
Technology is great; it solves a lot of problems. This is not one of them.
I haven’t even started in on the huge issues with tracking students in such an abusable fashion. Do we imagine that no one else will have devices to read these cards? That some stalker won’t set up a card-scanner to see which students walking past them at the mall go to which schools by reading the cards in their purses? It’s already been done with the chips in modern credit cards.
I don’t have an issue with tracking students. Schools do that already, mostly by eye. This new method could become creepy, but it’s not inherently so, depending on how it’s implemented. I do have an issue with schools who want to abdicate the responsibility of tracking their own students.
Look at what we’re doing here.
The parents don’t want the responsibility of making sure their kids go to school, so they say, “Let the schools handle it. We did our best, we raised them and got them out the door.”
Schools don’t want the responsibility of keeping track of students, so they put the burden on technology and the corporations that make it. “We shelled out for this new technology, we’re doing our best.”
Those corporations can now turn things on the students, saying, “They’re the ones who bypassed our system. They have to be held responsible; we did our best.”
And the students?
Just look at those wonderful role models they have. Every adult involved, each one, ditching the responsibility and claiming they did their best. What do you think the students will do?
This is not our best.